07 Feb Bonus Episode: Cringey Job Rejection Letters/Emails – Why?
Last April, I recorded an episode called Ghosting, Reconsidered where I asked the question: is ghosting always a negative thing? As you know, I’m not afraid of making bold statements or bold predictions. And for my money, I’d rather hear nothing than receive an email that’s rude, weird, or cringe.
✔️ Several years ago, job seekers were very vocal about, “Tell us anything, even if it’s just a form letter. But for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t ghost us.” Is that still accurate now in the midst of The Great Resignation? 🤔 People get so many emails and calls from recruiters and an active job seeker will probably have applied to dozens if not hundreds of roles so… is that form letter still necessary?
✔️ A rude, tacky response will alienate good candidates. And probably show up on social media for everyone to lampoon.
✔️ Just as some people like to play games in romantic relationships, some people want to play games in the business world, too. That doesn’t mean we need to participate.
✔️ A boilerplate email like this:
“Thank you for your interest in X. While your skills and background impressed us, we have decided to proceed with other applicants who more closely fit our needs at this time. We appreciate your time and effort. We encourage you to apply for other positions at X in the future.”
seems out-of-date, impersonal, and silly to me. Again, maybe it’s just me, but I’d honestly rather hear nothing than receive something I find condescending.
Links I discuss in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in to this bonus episode. Today I want to talk about tacky or cringy job rejection emails or job rejection letters that are just several years ago when the market was different and hiring companies much more so had the upper hand than candidates did. Candidates and job seekers started to launch a movement of stop ghosting us, even if you just send out a basic form letter or a basic form email saying, you know, thanks for applying. But we’re not going to consider your application or thanks for coming in for an interview. But we’ve decided to go in a different direction, saying anything to let the job seeker know yes or no is much better than saying nothing at all. Is it? Okay, I know your knives are coming out. I’m probably going to get some well, not probably I will get some hate mail from some right fighters on this topic. But seriously, let’s ask that question isn’t better. In April of last year, I recorded an episode called ghosting reconsidered, and it was one of the most popular solo episodes of 2021 that I did. And that doesn’t surprise me. You I asked the question is ghosting, always a negative thing? In the past, we tended to think that there was never ever An Acceptable Time to just simply vanish. But here we are in a much more technological age, a lot of our interactions are more fleeting and transactional than they ever have been before. So how much do we actually owe other people, especially in some fleeting vague situation where you may not even know the person’s name? They’re just somebody on the other side of a computer screen? How much do we oh, that other person. Another thing is, some situations will be painful and awkward no matter what. And it will not matter if you just rip the band aid off quickly and try to move fast. Or if you go slow, and you write war and peace to the other person, the outcome is going to be the same no matter what let’s say you’re breaking up with someone, you can either sit there for hours and hours and dissect the entire relationship like you’re picking apart the Thanksgiving turkey or you can say you know what this is not working out anymore. And I think that we should go our separate ways. In either scenario, whether you sit there and pick and pick and pick or whether you say i This just isn’t working out anymore, the outcome is the same either way, you no longer want the relationship to continue. So doing something cringy Is that better than ghosting? Hmm. I’m not so sure. One thing that I want to clarify here is that it really depends on the longevity and the intimacy level involved in the situation. For example, if someone asks you out on a date, and then they never follow through with it, they never call you to set up a time and a place. Or maybe a friend says hey, I didn’t have somebody in mind for you. Would you be open to a blind date setup? You say yes. And then no one ever calls to confirm a date or a time the ball never moves forward down the cord. It just sort of dissipates. The we could I guess say that that’s tacky or uncool, but it’s not the end of the world. Whereas if somebody has been in a long term relationship, they agree they’re going to get married and then the other person leaves one of them standing at the altar ghosted. Yeah, hey, you know, we’re gonna send everybody home because this is a no show no call situation where you just got ditched here at the altar? That’s heinous, right? So I think that we have to look at the degrees of ghosting and determine well, how intimate was the relationship? How long had it gone on? Because deciding against a first date or changing your mind about a blind date and just never allowing it to get off the ground in my mind is much different than guilting someone at the altar. I have a friend I won’t mention his name, I’ll just call him John. And he was in a relationship for two and a half years with someone that he believed he was going to marry. He had already picked out a an engagement ring. And he was thinking about time and place. He wanted it to be very romantic, and to figure out the right time in place to pop question. One day, his girlfriend calls him over to her apartment. And she says, Well, I haven’t really said anything about this because I wanted to wait until everything was a done deal. But I’ve been actively applying for jobs outside of the city. In fact, outside of the state, I’m tired of being in the Midwest. I feel like there’s not enough opportunities for me and what I want to do in my career if I stay here, so I’ve accepted a job And it’s like 800 miles away from where we’re at, they’re going to relocate me and get me set up with an apartment in the other city. You can follow me if you want to. And we can continue dating, if you decide you want to relocate there and follow me, but I don’t want a long distance relationship at all. And I know that all of your family is here, you really like this area, you want to raise your children here and one day. So if you don’t want to follow me to this other place, I’ll totally understand. John was both surprised and devastated, of course, but he told me, you know, at the time, I was so smitten with her, and so in love. And I felt like I had so much invested in the relationship already that I tried, I for two months, actively applied to jobs, even things that were way below what I was qualified to do, I applied all over the place, never even got a call back from anybody. I tried to look at apartments that I thought I could afford, even if I needed to maybe float myself along on savings for three or four months until something popped. And I couldn’t find anything that I could afford. So after about two months of actively trying to figure out a way to follow her, my family had a sort of intervention on me and said, Look, you have been trying and it has not been working out. You’re a grown man, this is your own business. We didn’t really want to say anything. But you know, don’t you think this is kind of a sign a sign from God or a sign from the universe that you’re really not meant to follow her? If she cared about you? Why wouldn’t she have told you that this was her game plan earlier than now? Like, do you do you really want to uproot your life and follow her and then hope it works out in this other city, where you don’t know anyone other than her. And at that point, he decided it was time to let the relationship go to do his grieving and to heal from what had happened to him. And he decided that following her was ultimately not the right thing for him to do. I had a somewhat similar situation in my dating life. I had been dating someone for less than a year and it’s been several months. And he confessed to me that he was planning to just send me a Dear John letter. He had accepted a job in another city. And he was going to mail me a letter after he got there with no forwarding address, and just say, like me, I’m, I really enjoyed our time together, but I’ve got to move on. And don’t try to find me. And I’m like, what? And then he said, but I had an attack of conscience. And I felt like that would be a really crappy thing to do to another human being. So I’m telling you now that I’m leaving, and like, you can follow me if you want to. And we can continue to date when we both get down there. But like, you know, I don’t want you to move in with me or I don’t want to get super serious about it. You know, we could just kind of see where it goes. If you decided to follow me and I was like, Um, no, I guess thanks for not dear John lettering me, but this is pretty horrible. And no, hell no, I’m not gonna follow you. I started thinking about how all of this relates to the business world ghosting versus getting a rejection. And then what if the rejection is cringy? And it’s even worse than just being ghosted? As I mentioned, before, candidates had this big movement up, just tell us something, let us know if you’re not going to move forward, then don’t leave us hanging we need to know so that we can move on to other possibilities, other applications, other hiring managers, but don’t just ghost us, especially after we’ve gone in for an interview. And everything seemed like it was going really well. Like you don’t get to just walk away, you have to tell us something. So then, in response to that, it seemed that corporate America decided to send out cringy rejection letters and cringy rejection emails. Sometimes they’re just for me emails, they might be something that gets kicked out by LinkedIn, or indeed, it’s like vault ball. Other times, it seems that someone is on the other end of the email is making an effort to write something that they think isn’t cringy. But if it comes across cringy and awkward, I, I think again, okay, I know I’m gonna get hate mail, and maybe this is just me, like Dennis Miller always says, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong. But for my money, if I get back a response, that’s weird, incoherent cringy awkward, I just automatically cross that place off my list. I mean, to me, it burns more of a bridge to get something that’s awkward, rude, weird, whatever, then to get nothing at all. And again, maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m a weirdo. But for my money, I would rather hear nothing than here’s something cringe rude, weird, awkward, nonsensical, etc. In thinking about the great resignation or the great reshuffle, however you want to look at it. People have more options than they ever have before. And so if you have someone that’s let’s say actively on the job market and they’re applying to things that they’re genuinely interested in, I don’t know that it’s going to even make much of an impact if they get four or five, add water and stir rejection emails from indeed, hey, thanks for applying for ABC company. We enjoyed receiving your application. But we just don’t think you’re a great fit for this. keep us in mind or thanks for applying on LinkedIn. Be sure to follow our company. We’re not gonna hire you for this job, but follow us anyway on social media. And it’s like what it made me think of the article that I mentioned in the ghosting reconsidered episode from medium.com. I’ll drop another link to it in the write up for this bonus episode. It’s titled indifference of ghosting when no response is the right response. And it’s written by Jenny Hogan. The date on it goes back to May 21 of 2018. I’m going to read a passage from that article for you here. I once had a first date at the San Francisco airport. We had matched on hinge earlier that week, and we realized we were both flying out of San Francisco at the same time on Thursday night. I’m obsessed with optimizing my time, so it seemed perfect. We were meeting after security so it was a nice built in guarantee that he wouldn’t have any weapons on him. The date lasted about an hour before he told me that he had decided to opt into early boarding was I such a bad day that he’d paid $45 to get away for me in the past mins desire to avoid me usually maxed out at around two hasty glasses of wine and some cold calamari. So around $42. I wasn’t optimistic, but he was a nice guy. So I sent him a text the next day saying, Hey, nice to meet you. I hope your flight was good. I didn’t expect him to respond. But lo and behold, a few hours later, I received a text saying, Hey, nice to meet you as well. I don’t see this going anywhere. But I hope you have a good time with your family. Had he felt the need to send a breakup text after one short date. I hadn’t even asked him out again, it would have been more polite if he had just not responded. My date probably didn’t think ghosting or not responding was an option. Ghosting has gotten a terrible reputation is one of the worst ways to end a romantic encounter. In quote, I’m going to skip down a couple of paragraphs and read a little bit more. A major issue with ghosting is that it forces us to wait you don’t know right away whether or not you’re going to get another date. We’re all on our phones constantly. Someone who wants to go out again is more than capable of responding to a text within a few hours. If they don’t, you can take it as a no without having to actually read a rejection text. It may seem like ghosting is the ultimate act of indifference. But is it a tech saying hey, nice to meet you. But I’m not feeling it any less indifferent. Personally, I feel worse when I have to read a cringe worthy text than when I have to spend a few hours waiting, I find it really easy to distract myself from being ignored. But once someone’s put a rejection of me down in words, I can’t get that image out of my head. Rejection texts also take a long time to arrive possibly because the man is trying to put it off, I still have to wait. And then I have to read a boilerplate rejection text at which point I usually prefer to have read nothing in quote. So in the business world, we can draw out the same parallel, getting some weirdo boilerplate rejection email from a company is that really better than not hearing anything at all? Now for me personally, if I get an email from a company wanting an RFI or an RFQ, and I get materials put together and I send that off to them. If I don’t hear anything back, I assume the answer is no. If it’s a company or a project that I’m really geeked up about. And if I’m like yeah, I I really think that this could go somewhere I feel like working for this company could be a real feather in my cap, or the project looks intellectually stimulating to me, I think I could probably, you know, really learn some new skills or sharpen my knife a bit better by doing this, then I will send one follow up email. Hey, just wanted to see if you had any questions or wanted to see if this is still going to move forward? And if so what kind of a timeline are we’re on? Are we on, but I don’t browbeat them. I don’t chase them. I don’t pursue them and I don’t stalk them. I leave it at that one follow up email. And if they don’t respond to the follow up email, then it’s a very clear no answer is your answer. As this writer points out, we’re all on our phones all the time. It’s not that difficult for someone to respond to an email and say, You know what, we’re not going to move forward or you know what we’ve we’ve gone in a different direction, but thanks anyway. So if they’re deliberately not responding to you, you can sit there and twist your guts in a knot and assume that your messages went to spam mail or just disappeared somewhere in the ether. But more than likely, they just don’t want to come forward and say, No, we want to go we want to move forward with this project, but not with you or we’ve lost funding and we don’t have any money to do it. And instead of telling you that we want to just sort of slink away quietly without having to admit to you that we’re now broke. You know, I’m more than willing to tattle on myself and to be transparent with you guys like One of the things that I hated in my first iteration of self employment with that business that failed was feeling like I was always in chasing mode. I was pursuing I was chasing, I was begging for business, I would send all of these follow ups based on archaic bullshit information about well, you know, the average deal is closed on number 5110. contact to the prospect, the prospect has to see your name and business name at least 500 million bajillion times before they will even think to remember you. And it’s like, no, no, no. Maybe in the past, that was true. Or maybe we all just listen to a bunch of salespeople and coaches that were full of shit. Let’s face it, they’re a dime a dozen. And they’re very plentiful out in the marketplace. I don’t chase I don’t pursue and I don’t beg. I’m the expert. I’m the authority figure. And if a company wants to partner together with me to get a project done, they know where to find me. There’s absolutely no need for me to beat their door down and beg for business. And if you have been in that situation to where you’re like, Man, I feel like all I do is send up, follow up, send out follow up emails and try to chase these people down. I feel like I’m all the time hunting for information, then. Maybe it’s time to think about doing your marketing in a different way. Especially if you’re not making the kind of money that you want to make and or you’re exhausted. If running the business feels like a living hell all the time, then your business thing wrong. It shouldn’t feel like a living hell all day every day. No, it’s not sunshine and roses constantly. But if it’s always pure misery, that’s not a great sign. I’m going to read a little bit more from this article on medium.com. I’ve been broken up with many times. In fact, I think I’ve been dumped by more men than I ever realized I was dating. I once texted a man after a second date and received a text two weeks later that said, Hey, you’re really nice, but I don’t think we have the same interests. I didn’t even have the number saved anymore. So I wasn’t sure which of the multitude of assholes it could be just kidding, it was Alex, I simply did not need to know why he didn’t want to go out again, within three hours of him not responding to my text, I assumed it was over. His rejection just gave me another reason to feel bad about myself. A man who barely knows me isn’t entitled to assess what’s wrong with me. He’s only entitled to take it or leave it. In fact, the modern day translation of let sleeping dogs lie is actually let that nice girl continue to live her life without knowing exactly why you don’t want a third date. We live in a world where information is easy to come by. We expect to have our questions answered immediately by Google or Siri, and they usually deliver. For example, the other day I walked outside, I noticed it was raining and then check the weather app on my phone to confirm that it was indeed raining. I’m as susceptible to this as anyone. If I see an actress I recognize on the screen, I can enjoy the rest of the movie until I look up where I’ve seen her before. Still, I’ve tried to train myself not to expect the same from people because others are not just repositories of information for us. We’ve come to expect other people to give us answers. Even if these answers don’t benefit us at all. I’m not advocating that we always ghost each other. Of course, for longer relationships, even anything beyond a few dates, you owe your partner an explanation. You can’t go your way out of a marriage and even for shorter flings. If you think your desire to not go out again will come as a shock to the other person. Give them an explanation. But if you’re looking for a way out of a third date, without hurting someone’s feelings, consider saying nothing. Ghosting isn’t evil and quote, okay, I again, I can feel some of you getting your knives and daggers out. I feel the same way about the job hunting process. If somebody sends an application, and then a month or two months later, they get some tacky ass rejection email. It’s like I forgot I even sent you anything like who even are you? It’s just weird and it comes across in my opinion, as tone deaf. I would rather hear nothing than hear something poorly written weird or cringy. Maybe it’s just me, but you know, I just don’t like it. And I think the process of sending out like booting out an automatic rejection letter to somebody is tone deaf and it’s becoming archaic. It makes your company look old school old fashioned like okay, we’re still back in that period of time before the great resignation when all these candidates said at least send us a form letter for God’s sakes. And we haven’t adapted to this new environment yet. There’s also an article I will link to on the dip written by Samantha Bush now, I think in order to read the entire article, you have to sign up for it so there’s only going to be a part of it that I can read. But I think that she makes a really good point just right in the opening page. paragraph that you will be able to read for free. And here we go. For years, there have been articles written TED Talks and tic TOCs. Giving out dating advice all advocating for, quote, open communication, and how you shouldn’t play games. Well, I’m here to disagree. Listen, I don’t love games either. But why is not liking someone who you’ve just met, and not wanting to text with them again, considered a game? It sounds like healthy boundaries and avoiding unnecessary confrontation that makes people feel worse to me and quote, hmm, you know what, guys? I’m gonna say the same thing about these tacky job rejection letters. Like, can we not maybe possibly agree that it’s an unnecessary confrontation? I mean, is it or or an unnecessary way of making your business look bad, especially if it’s just a add water and stir form letter or it’s a tacky response? You know, in a previous episode, I talked about how I’d send some information off to a potential client and 30 seconds later, I received a rejection email from a woman who could not have even possibly read the material I sent over. It’s like, yeah, we need help on this project. Oh, but not you. And so I clap back. And I’m like, wow, that was fast. But thanks for letting me know. I mean, what are the odds that I would ever do any project work for that company? Hmm, not very high. I mean, if that particular woman left the company, which let’s face it, and the great reshuffle and the great resignation, that could happen, she’d be gone tomorrow, then I would consider it because maybe the obstacle, maybe the bottleneck in the situation was her and not anybody else. But while she’s still at that company, and still sending out like, Bs emails to people after 30 seconds, I’m not going to consider them. There’s another article on breezy.hr That I will link to in the write up. And one of the things that they talk about, as an absolute don’t do in a job rejection email is being rude. I’m going to read here, according to one Reddit user, the worst job rejection letter they ever received was a very poorly phrased letter that said, thank you for your interest in the position. Unfortunately, I see absolutely no reason to pursue it any further with you and quote, what are the odds that that person is ever going to want to work for that company again, I mean, even if it was just one bad apple in the HR department, or one bad hiring manager that thought they were being cute or funny, like you’re out there ruining your name in the marketplace, if you’re sending out crap like that, something else they say in this article that I think is really important is to leave the door open, so that even if the candidate wasn’t a great fit for the position they apply to, but they look like they could be a great fit for something else down the line. Don’t burn any bridges with them. Now see, I’m old enough to remember most of my lifetime, that was flipped in reverse. You were told as the job seeker or the candidate, don’t burn any bridges with the hiring manager, don’t burn any bridges with the company, you really need to grovel for the job, basically. Oh, oh, hiring manager, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to come in and have this interview. Oh, hiring manager, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. Oh, I love this company. Oh, I even love the parking lot. You know, you’re really supposed to lay it on thick. Times have changed their hiring managers out there and HR departments that don’t want to acknowledge this reality. But that doesn’t make the reality not true. It doesn’t make reality not real just because you disagree with it. Things are now on the other side of the spectrum, where the hiring manager or the hiring company is the candidate, the job seeker is really the one in the power position. So if you’re sending out these ticky tack rejection emails that make you look stupid, or they’re awesome, they’re either coming out instantaneously, and it comes across as rude and abrupt, or they’re coming out slow as molasses. And it’s like, I don’t even remember this company. I don’t remember sending them any information like why after three months, are they finding the need to send something to me now it’s just weird. Stop doing that. If you feel the need to send these rejection letters or rejection emails out, you want to make sure that you’re crafting them in such a way that they’re not causing alienation. Again, if you’re stuck in a bygone era where you feel like the candidate needs to come to you and grovel, or the candidate needs to follow up with you. You know, sometimes we see this in sales and marketing jobs where the sales manager is living in another time. And they think well, I want this candidate to prove to me that they’re a shark. I want this candidate to prove to me that they’re a go getter by following up with me over and over and over again and doing whatever it takes to get hired. You know, they’re going to do whatever it takes to close a deal with a client if they come to me as the host Hiring Manager and try to browbeat me into hiring them. If you are still conducting your process in that manner, you have to change with the times. If you’re a job seeker and you’re tired of receiving cringy job rejection letters, then I think we all sort of need to collectively speak up and say, okay, it may have been that a previous generation or a previous wave of job seekers really wanted to get even a cringy form letter. They felt like not getting an answer at all was the most egregious sin in the world. And we can come together now and say, okay, times have changed that wave of job seekers may have wanted that but now, not so much.